Hammer, who is queer, said Burlington felt aligned with her identity. “I really think it’s coming down to having safe places to be recognized, to listen, to just exist peacefully,” she said.
The sudden burst of cultural linkage to Burlington caught city officials by surprise.
“It was not on my Wednesday surprise bingo card,” John Flanagan, a spokesperson for Burlington City Arts, a city-affiliated cultural space.
But Flanagan, 37, did not pass up a chance to promote his city.
“I know a lot of the artists that we’ve been identified with are artists who identify as queer,” Flanagan said. “So a lot of people who listen to those artists are aligning with Burlingtonian values. And I think that’s spot on. And we really do pride ourselves on inclusivity and exquisite taste.”
Burlington has a population of roughly 45,000 people, about 85.6 percent are white, above the national average, according to the census. Notable artists and bands have emerged from the Burlington area, including the jam band Phish, as well as singer-songwriters like Grace Potter and Kahan, who has recently broken through to stardom. With events like the summer’s Festival of Fools, a celebration of busking; and an underground music scene, Burlington does have a certain cultural cache, Flanagan noted.
“Many people are drawn to Burlington because it’s just got a reputation as a vibrant arts community,” Flanagan said. “And I get the sense that might be what Spotify is kind of going for here.”
Howard Dean, who was the governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2003, said that he had “absolutely no idea” why Spotify had linked so many to Burlington. He guessed it has something to do with the fact that the city is home to the University of Vermont — which has about 14,000 enrollees.